Stupples ends home drought with Open win

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The Independent Online

With a brilliance that has rarely been seen on the final day of a major championship, regardless of gender, Karen Stupples became the first home player to win the Weetabix Women's British Open for 13 years.

The Kentish woman, who virtually bankrupted herself when starting out as a professional, rewarded her supporters with a day of days before receiving the crystal trophy.

Stupples, 31, marched up the last hole with a five-stroke lead accompanied by a standing ovation. The eventual margin of victory may have appeared emphatic yet only became so after three birdies on Sunningdale's devious final four holes.

But it was the start that history will remember. Beginning the final round one stroke off the lead, Stupples's first five strokes were as near to perfection as could be imagined.

Never can a player in a major championship have followed an eagle with an albatross, the latter rare bird making only its second appearance in a women's major. After two holes, both par-fives, Stupples was five under par. At the first she hit a five-iron for her second shot to 15 feet and holed the putt.

It was the sort of start she had hoped for to put pressure on the leaders, but after driving over the road at the second it became the stuff of fairy tales. This time another five-iron from 205 yards rolled gently up to the hole, knocked against the flagstick and fell in.

"I couldn't see the ball go into the hole but the cheer from the crowd was unbelievable and I knew it must have gone in," she said. "I've never had an albatross before so it was a good time to have one. I knew from then on I was going to enjoy the day."

Rachel Teske, one of the overnight leaders, birdied the first two holes but was still two behind. The Australian twice drew level with Stupples but her bogey at the 12th put the Kent player in the lead for good.

Stupples quickly drew away by holing from 30 feet at the 15th, hitting yet another superb five-iron at the 16th to six feet and then holing a 40-footer at the 17th.

Stupples only won for the first time, after five years in the United States, in March. "My family weren't there so it makes this even more special for them all to be here," she said. Stupples was the first home player to win since Penny Grice-Whittaker in 1991 at Woburn and the first British winner of a major for six years. A closing 64 meant she tied the major championship record of 19 under par.

"It's mind-blowing," Stupples said. "It just goes to show if you have a dream, you should always fight on. You never know what might happen."

Women'S British Open (Sunningdale) Leading final scores: 269 K Stupples (Eng) 65 70 70 64. 274 R Teske (Aus) 70 69 65 70. 275 H Bowie (US) 70 69 65 71. 276 L Ochoa (Mex) 69 71 66 70. 277 M Redman (US) 70 71 70 66; G Sergas (It) 72 71 67 67; B Daniel (US) 69 69 71 68. 278 J Y Lee (S Kor) 67 72 70 69; L Davies (Eng) 70 69 69 70; M Blomqvist (Fin) 68 78 62 70. 279 O Hurst (US) 72 72 66 69; C Kerr (US) 69 73 63 74. 280 C Koch (Swe) 70 70 70 70; H W Han (Kor) 72 68 70 70; G Park (S Kor) 71 70 69 70; L Diaz (USA) 70 69 70 71; A Sorenstam (Swe) 68 71 70 71; N Gulbis (US) 68 71 70 71; C Kim (US) 73 68 68 71; P Marti (Sp) 73 66 68 73. Selected: 281 Se Ri Pak (S Kor) 73 70 69 69. 283 J Inkster (US) 71 75 69 68. 285 A Nicholas (Eng) 75 71 70 69. 286 C Matthew (Sco) 68 74 68 76.

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